FantasyYIRMA GW 31 Review: All Hail The Egyptian King…

With just four matches taking place in GW31, the word ‘strategy’ was used frequently among the FPL community this week. Some had been planning for this for weeks, strategically bringing in crap players, sorry, players from teams such as Crystal Palace, Bournemouth and Huddersfield with this week in mind. Others were reaching for their ‘Free Hit’ chip and loading up on 12 crap players (Damn! Sorry!), players from ‘non-fashionable’ clubs to add to their three Liverpool sure-fire bankers. Yes, that says bankers. Some even chose the strategy of ‘doing nowt’, hoping that a team consisting of less than a handful of players might avoid a massive red arrow of doom.

Ironically none of the above strategies mattered…as long as you captained Salah. Don’t say this column didn’t warn you!

Mo Salah

The debate surrounding the ‘Footballer Of The Year’ award is going to come to a head in the coming weeks as the ‘De Bruyne / Salah’ debate rages on, where one party is going to be aggrieved no matter what the result. However in FPL world, the results are already in. All hail Mo Salah! Y’see in FPL it’s not about cups won, it’s about points won, and he’s now 83 points ahead of KDB this season. Yes the Belgian has a game in hand put he’d want to be putting in some shift to make up 83 points…

Against Watford we finally saw Mo Salah doing what he’s been threatening to do for quite a while – he tore an opponent a new one. 4 goals. An assist. 3 bps. TWENTY NINE POINTS (In the style of the old BBC Videprinter – ask yer Da).

The remaining stand-out players in GW31 all had ownership under 10% (which is becoming standard in this bloody game at this stage). James Tomkins scored over 20% of his full seasons points with a goal, clean sheet and 3 bps to break Huddersfield hearts and give Crystal Palace a chance of staying up this season. The b*stard (Sorry, not sorry). Cenk Tosun has responded to Sam Allardyce calling him ‘rubbish’ by being not rubbish and grabbing two goals at Stoke. I’m not saying he damaged Stoke irreparably, but he did a damn fine impression of a bull in a pottery shop to smash their hopes of staying up.

Andrew Robertson was purchased from Hull City for £8m last summer by Liverpool. Liverpool then sold Kevin Stewart to Hull City for £8m in return. THAT, Mr. Trump, is what you call ‘The Art Of The Deal’. In fact I’m ashamed to call it a ‘deal’. It’s blind robbery. A long-con of epic proportions. It would make Cambridge Analytica blush. Robertson’s cross for Mo Salah’s second was so beautiful that it can blind you by looking directly at it. I know of men who have left their wives and children to run off with that cross. It helped Mr. Robertson to 11 points. Swoon.

Jordon Ibe was also sold by Liverpool in the not too distant past and for the majority of the time since, it looked like Liverpool had once more gotten the best part of that deal. However Jordon grabbed his second goal of the season to go with his six assists to grab 10 points against the not so ‘boinging’ Baggies. With form like that Herr Klopp must be crying salty tears into his coffee when he considers he could have kept Ibe and not bought Salah….ahahahahahahahaahaaaa!!!!

Junior Stanislas has shown real form in recent weeks and another 10 point haul will have really pleased his Dad, Stanislas Stanislas. At least I think that’s what his Dad must be called, right? You get called Junior when you have the same name as your Dad? Maybe he’s called Senior Stanislas? Imagine if they brought that custom into Scandinavian culture, where I believe that your surname is derived from your fathers name. Henrik Larsson’s dad was called Lars. Anders Svensson’s dad was called Sven. Bring in the ‘Junior’ custom and in three generations you’d have everyone in Scandinavia and Iceland called Juniorsson. It would be a nightmare for football commentators in the 2042 World Cup.

Finally we have Luka MiliVanilli Millvilleneuve Milivojevic of Crystal Palace, a man who has 106 points for the season because he turns up and scores penalties. No really, that’s all he does. Assists? Pah! Luka laughs at the mere thought. He’s there for the penalties and nothing else interests him. He scored his 8th of the season out of 9 attempts. The one he missed? Oh, it just would have beaten Manchester City. No big deal….

So we come onto our GW 31 Hall Of Shame, and this week we have one ‘winner’. This is a man who has had an unbelievably sh*tty start to 2018. To begin with, he plays for Stoke. He started the year with Mark Hughes as his manager. He then had Paul Lambert take over. That’s bad right? Oh you haven’t seen anything yet. He sits on the bench or out of the squad most weeks, but when he does get his chance he has a public row with his teammates over who should take a crucial late penalty to defeat a relegation rival, misses the penalty, moves slower than tectonic plates to the rebound and costs his team a win. He then sits on his arse for a few more weeks, and gets ONE LAST CHANCE when he starts in another huge relegation battle against an Everton team who enjoy playing away as much as Theresa May enjoys EU Summits. After 29 minutes, with his team in the ascendancy he goes in studs up on Wayne Rooney to earn a straight red card. His team go on to lose another crucial game. Then, to round off his utter humiliation NASA find the ball that he blootered over the bar in the 2012 League Cup Final penalty shoot-out against Cardiff City. It’s on Mars. No, really, it is.

Mars Ball

Charlie Adam ladies and gentlemen. And you thought YOU had a hard weekend?

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FantasyYIRMA GW 30 Review: From Russia With Love…

Regular readers of this column will know that I am firmly of the belief that this game of FPL trolls us, in a myriad of ways, and with no sense of justice or fairness. It’s almost certainly a complex Russian algorithm designed to drive over 5,000,000 of the global population to drink. Combine that with the Russian algorithms that got Trump elected, Brexit passed and Paddington 2 to be ignored for the Oscars, and it’s clear that the ‘Beast from the East’ is not a bloody snowstorm.

Kane got a point and injured. Aguero injured in training. Salah was crushed under the Mourinho bus. Chelsea clean sheet gone in the last minute. Davies not in the squad…As I stood on the ledge of the highest building in Cork I realised that I now know how those traders on Wall Street feel when the market crashes. However I also realised that I have a Free Hit and Triple Captain chip to play, so I’m still here ready to fight on.

Incredibly it’s one of the best weeks of the season for the quantity of players that hit double figures – a whopping 16 players scored 10 points or more. However just 4 of those players had ownership of more than 10%. Damn you Moscow!

David Silva had been absent in recent months due to the premature birth of his child, which as absence notes go is a bloody decent excuse. Hopefully things have worked out well in that situation, for David has returned to the Man City team with gusto, and his 16 point haul at The Britannia has brought his team to within 6 points of the title. He’s matched on that points total by Kenedy, the young Brazilian on loan from Chelsea. What’s that I hear you say? Young, talented and not getting a game for Chelsea? He’s the next De Bruyne! Salah! Lukaku! Well he did a decent impression of them this week with 2 goals and 3 bonus points.

I’m not saying that Arsenal have been in poor form, but Barnet (bottom of League 2 with 7 league wins) asked for a behind closed doors practice game to boost their players morale. People see that win over AC Milan as a sign that Arsenal still possess quality, and perhaps they do, but you should remember that AC Milan are playing Fabio Borini at right-back these days, so y’know…Anyway, a friend of mine is in a tight race in his FPL mini-league and took a punt this week when be brought in Peter Cech to face Watford. He was handsomely rewarded with a 15 point haul thanks to a clean sheet and a first ever penalty save at The Emirates. I asked my buddy how that left things in his mini-league and his response said it all: ‘Cech, mate’.

Chris Wood of Burnley scored 2 goals, provided an assist and picked up 3 bonus points, all in the space of 29 second half minutes at The London Stadium. You might think that’s impressive, but you should realise that one of those goals was assisted by West Ham fans invading the pitch, and the other was straight from a corner kick taken from the centre circle. To say things got out of hand on Saturday afternoon is an understatement. There were tense scenes as a large group of people gathered in front of Lady Brady looking for an improvement in their lives, something to give them hope for the future…but that’s all I can tell you about the next series of The Apprentice. She then went to watch West Ham play and you know the rest.

Finally the South Korean bid for World Domination (see last week’s column) continued as Son scored twice and racked up another 15 points. It’s rumoured that he’ll lead the ‘peace talks’ between Trump and Kim Jong-Un where he’ll immediately raise the average IQ by 147 points. There’s nothing that this boy can’t do.

Henrik Mkhitaryan scored 13 points as he continues to forge an impressive looking partnership with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Now it just took me 4 minutes to type that sentence so if these two do become a goal-scoring/assist-giving double act of note, than I propose nicknames. I’m open to suggestions, and you should send all ideas to @FantasyYIRMA, but I’ll start with Mickey and the PEA. He was joined on this points total by Serge Aurier who is the FPL equivalent of Russian Roulette. Sure, there’s a chance he’ll grab you points (26 in the last 3 games) but you just know he’s likely to deliver a red card at any minute. The perfect choice for those thrill-seekers out there.

Honourable mentions now for Mustafi, Baines, Rashford, Mahrez, Iheanacho, Shelvey (!), Alli, Willian and Iborra, but I don’t have the time and you don’t have the patience.

Onto our Villains Of The Week, and a strong group this time featuring four players in negative points territory. Young Jordan Ayew has caught the eye of 11.7% of FPL Players as he represents pretty good value for money…until this week when he was sent off after 10 minutes. -2 points for many of us who were also reeling from the Kane/Aguero/Salah/Davies debacle. Cheers Jordan, great timing!

Anthony Knockaert joined Ayew in the red card crucible at Goodison Park to grab himself -1 point and complete a pretty miserable day for the Seagulls. You know you’re having a bad day when you have two players in negative points territory and you’re only playing Everton! Joining his fellow ‘Gull’ is Gaetan Bong who grabbed an own goal to ‘earn’ his -1 point. He must have been dreading the Monday morning review from Chris Hughton. After all, the Seagulls had been flying so ‘high’. I’ll let you work that gag out yourself….

Finally we have Martin Kelly of Crystal Palace, singularly the unluckiest professional footballer playing today. I’m not even talking about his own goal at Stamford Bridge that condemned his side to another defeat and earned him -1 point. I’m talking about the fact that on two separate occasions he’s been at a club which has brought in Roy Hodgson as manager. Nobody deserves that.

@FantasyYIRMA GW 30 Preview: Peroni on Draft…

Hi! I’m @NiallHawthorne, and you  might remember me from such @FantasyYIRMA blogs as all the Gameweek Reviews this season and the now legendary (in my mind) Gameweek 12 Preview, where I tipped Alberto Moreno (6 Points), Xherdan Shaqiri (5 Points), Alvaro Morata (9 Points), Mo Salah (16 Points) and Callum Wilson (17 Points). How’d you like them onions, eh? So, y’know, you can heed the advice I’m about to convey…or not. Just don’t come crying to me Monday night (that applies if my tips are fantastic and you ignored them, or appalling and you followed them). Caveat Emptor! (No, he doesn’t play for Lazio, for F*CK sake…)

Defender: Jamaal Lascelles, Newcastle

If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. That’s some sage advice for you right there, and 18 GW’s ago I told you all to back a defender that was facing Southampton. Guess what? Yep! Rafa Benitez is preparing his troops to face Southampton, and his young padwan in the opposite dugout, Mauricio Pellegrino. These two have history; Pellegrino played for Benitez at Liverpool, then joined him as a young coach following his retirement. Rafa has remained ‘Rafa’ in the intervening years – he could likely coach the worst U-15 team in your area to beat West Brom on any given day – and his penchant for defensive strategy should see him in his element this weekend, as the Geordie defence face the worst attack in living memory. Jamaal Lascelles is the main man at St. James’ Park these days, and he’s nailed on for a clean sheet, while he also provides plenty of threat at set-pieces with three goals already this season.

Midfielder: Michail Antonio, West Ham

Yes, I know that the Hammers are muck, but you don’t want to play it safe all your life, do you? Come on, take a chance, roll the dice, spin the roulette wheel of life! While this choice is admittedly a risk due to The Moyesiah being an idiot of biblical proportions, Antonio’s recent form should guarantee him a start against Burnley at The London Stadium. A 6 point return in each of his last three GW’s, despite only starting one of those games, is impressive. Allied to this surge of form is the fact that Burnley hit 40 points with their victory last weekend, so they’re safe. Now I can’t tell you how I know this, but a credible source has told me that the Burnley squad have already hit the beach, mentally and physically. They’ve packed it in. Job done. So much so that the away kit they’re wearing against West Ham features Hawaiian shirts, sunglasses and flip-flops. You know what? They’re dead right too.

Forward: Jamie Vardy, Leicester City

He’s playing West Brom. West Bromwich Albion. The Baggies. They play at The Hawthorns and they’re so bad that even if it was my back garden, I wouldn’t open the curtains to watch. They’ve conceded 13 goals in their last 6 games, against attacking juggernauts like Southampton (chortle), Everton (guffaw), Huddersfield (snigger) and Watford (ROFL). The players don’t care anymore, and why would they when they’ve got Alan Pardew as manager, a man with as much charm, empathy, talent and self-awareness as Donald Trump? There ain’t no party like a Vardy party, and Jamie is going to be smashing into the Blue WKD on Saturday night celebrating a hat-trick.

Captain: Eden Hazard, Chelsea

Did you see the state of Hazard at The Etihad last week? Man dear, he was trudging around that pitch like a young teenager who just got caught watching porn before being thrown out onto the street to play football with his friends. I’m not saying he was moody, but the actual Moody’s ratings agency downgraded Antonio Conte’s stock from A- to Junk Bond status. Now THAT is moody. However the upside is that he has pent up frustration inside him, bubbling up like a Belgian beer, ready to froth over against a hapless opponent who just don’t have the testicular fortitude to withstand such an explosion. Oh hello Crystal Palace! How nice to see you! Palace have the backbone of jellyfish, as demonstrated in their last two outings against Spurs and United and Hazard is going to take it out on them. He’s going to destroy them.

Oh, but always Captain Salah. I had to say that.

Outsider: Jose Heriberto Izquierdo Mena, Brigton & Hove Albion

This midfield dynamo has risen to prominence in the last few weeks as Brighton have picked up 11 points from their last 5 games, with the Columbian bagging two goals and an assist in that run. He’s got pace, an eye for goal and a effervescence that makes me feel warm inside. He’s also playing Everton who are going to get relegated. You heard it here first.

Draft: Peroni. A beautiful pint on draft. Yes indeed. 

Do You Know The First Rule Of Fan Club?

I’m not exactly sure what tipped me over the edge to make me want to write this piece. I don’t think it was a single eye-swiveling opinion or spittle-coated online rant, more likely it’s been the non-stop ‘drip-drip’ effect of endless nonsensical tweets, YouTube rants and self-absorbed demands of those that call themselves Liverpool ‘Fans’.

What is a ‘Fan’ anyway? That may sound like a daft question, but I’m starting to think that a LOT of people that support LFC have forgotten. Let’s look at the dictionary for a definition because that’s the single agreed point of reference for the definition of anything and everything, unless it’s negative about Donald Trump in which case it’s full of more ‘Fake News’ than the National Enquirer. Anyway, I digress.

A ‘Fan’ is an abbreviation of ‘Fanatic’ which is defined as:

Fanatic

A person filled with excessive and single-minded zeal.

Yep, I can’t say that hasn’t been me over the years. I mean I’ve spent a full fortnight ahead of big cup finals unable to think about anything else, unable to speak about anything else, unable to do anything of any use until it’s over. If the result was positive I was walking on air (while repeatedly punching it) for days and weeks afterwards. If the result didn’t go the way I wanted, I…well, I don’t want to talk about it, no matter what my therapist recommends.

There is much to admire about a ‘Fan’ who is besotted and devoted to their sports team. Hell, multi-billion pound businesses are based on the unbridled passion that a ‘Fan’ has for his or her team, on the fact that they will go to extraordinary lengths to support their team in whatever way they can, be that through attending games, purchasing merchandise or subscribing to sports channels to watch their team.

However you should note the synonyms ‘excessive’, ‘extremist’, ‘militant’, ‘radical’, and ‘activist’ included in that definition. I would argue (and you’re free to disagree and be wrong) that those synonyms are applicable to ‘Fans’ who go too far in their fanaticism and who, in my opinion, actually cause harm and become destructive to the team that they ironically want to succeed more than anything else…they try too hard as ‘Fans’…they turn their fanaticism up to 11…they become BLOWHARDS.

Now ask yourself…Are you a ‘Fan’ or are you a BLOWHARD ?

How about a couple of examples of Liverpool BLOWHARDS from that there Twitter machine:

Lovren Fan Tweet 1Lovren Fan Tweet 2

So these two Twitter Accounts are people who would present themselves as Liverpool ‘Fans’. One is from Liverpool itself, and the other has a plethora of LFC hashtags in their bio (#YNWA #KOP #JFT96) so it’s safe to assume both are what they say they are. It took me less than 60 seconds to find these two tweets, and there are many, many more just like them. Just stick #Lovren or #Klavan or (don’t laugh) #KloppOut into the search function on Twitter to see the reams and reams of tweets from Liverpool ‘Fans’ who have become the perfect example of BLOWHARDS.

Let’s be clear about this: If you are tweeting this kind of guff, or moaning on the Kop (or not incessantly chanting and cheering for that matter), or Instagramming it or calling into Radio Phone-Ins (and it takes a special kind of BLOWHARD to do that), you are not helping. I know you think you’re helping, but you’re not. You’ve forgotten the first rule of Fan Club. What do you mean you don’t remember what the first rule of Fan Club is? It’s simple. The first rule of Fan Club is you SUPPORT.

Back to the old dictionary we go…

Supporter

So there we have it. That’s what a ‘Supporter’ does. Ahhh! I hear you cry, it says ‘approve of and encourage and I sure as hell don’t approve of Lovren/Klavan/Chamberlain/etc’. Well, maybe you don’t, and you’re entitled to your opinion. However now we are getting to the nitty gritty of this issue.

What do you think you are going to achieve by publicly demeaning or degrading or vilifying the elements of the team/club you don’t agree with? Will Klopp drop Lovren forever because of your tweet? Will he buy VVD because you told Klavan to fuck off? Will Oxlade-Chamberlain turn into Gareth Bale because you said he was utter shite on his first start?

No. No. No.

What do you think you might achieve if you cheer them on in every minute of every game, give them all your support and clap them off at the final whistle? Will they win every game 4-0? Will Lovren win the Balon D’or? Will Klavan turn into Maldini?

No. No. No.

Y’see? It doesn’t matter what you do on the grand scale of things (although we all know fans roaring a team home can make some difference). So you have two choices. Cheer the lads with all your might or be that BLOWHARD. Why would you, as a ‘fan’, choose the latter?

I’m not immune to the frustration of being a Liverpool fan, I’ve been doing it since I was 7 years of age. I was 13 when I last saw Liverpool lift a league title and now I’m middle-aged, overweight, married with kids and in more debt than an African country. Being a ‘Fan’ of LFC is one of the very few escapes I have left (if my darling wife is reading this…I LOVE YOU!!!). I pray for success more than any of you, and I’m going to stand over that. There is no other Liverpool fan who wants it more than me. So to all of those who tweet me with glib platitudes about not accepting mediocrity, to you all I say ‘YOU DUMB F*CK’. It’s not about me accepting mediocrity, or you not accepting it, it’s about you accepting that there’s F*CK ALL YOU CAN DO ABOUT IT APART FROM CHEERING THEM ON. 

That’s it. In a nutshell. That’s all you can do to have any affect on what happens on the pitch. You can’t change how they train, how they play, who they buy. Your job, and it’s your ONLY job, is to remember the first rule of Fan Club.

Note: I’m purely talking about the ‘cheering’/’moaning’ elements of being a fan. I am fully in awe of the work of the Fans Groups who make a real difference within the club such as in relation to Ticket Pricing etc, and there are also rare occasions when we all need to be BLOWHARDS together, isn’t that right Mr. Hodgson?

YNWA.

 

You Can Open The Curtains Now, The Transfer Window Is Shut…

Perception can be a cruel mistress. The same fact can mean drastically different things to different people due to their perception of that fact.

Take the Summer Transfer Window business of Liverpool Football Club for instance. I can tell you for a fact that it is thus:

Transfers In

Transfers Out

Total Money Spent: £80,100,000

Total Money Received: £ 42,480,000

So there you have it, all the facts of the matter.

Yet if you printed off all the tweets where people discussed how they perceived these facts, and stacked them one on top of the other, the astronauts on the International Space Station would have enough paper to doodle for months.

As ever, there are extremes of perception in favour of, and against, the business done by LFC in this transfer window. There are those who would organise a #FSGOUT march through the centre of Liverpool with all the gusto of a white supremacist rally in America, while others would volunteer to throw rose petals under the feet of Michael Edwards as he strode to his car after work today.

FSG Out
Look at this f*ckwit…

It’s impossible to write an opinion-piece like this without my own perceptions seeping into these words, but then again you can’t read it without your own perceptions affecting your opinion of this piece, so let’s all agree to read this and never speak of it again, ok?

This has been a GOOD transfer window for LFC. There I’ve said it. If you can’t read the paragraphs below due to the quantity of spittle and bile all over your screen, then you should stop reading here….

It has not been a great transfer window however because one transfer didn’t happen, to address one area of ‘perceived’ weakness in the Liverpool team, namely the failure to capture Virgil Van Dijk from Southampton. This ‘failure’ (and I use that term loosely as I’m not sure you can deem it a failure if the club that owns the player simply refuses to play ball, particularly when you played with their ball without their permission first…) is all the more frustrating as it has been the single biggest issue in the minds of the LFC fans for longer than any other. However it hasn’t happened, no matter how upset you may be about it, and they continue with what they have, and what they have is better than what I hear many say.

VVD
A Saint Or A Sinner? 

I’m not going to name specific players because you all know who is considered a weakness in this Liverpool defence, but I am going to point out some FACTS to you about this Liverpool defence:

In the last TEN league games played, Liverpool have conceded SIX goals. Defensive issues? What defensive issues? Ahh, but hold on, I can actually hear you screaming ‘small sample size’, ‘selective bias’ and ‘FSG apologist f*cknut’, so let’s continue…

In the TEN league games prior, Liverpool conceded FIFTEEN goals. Defensive issues? Oh, aye, those defensive issues. Why didn’t you say so! There you go, proof positive that the failure to capture VVD will ensure this season ends in tears and that the transfer window was a busted flush.

Perception, eh? What a bitch. The FACTS of the matter are that Jurgen Klopp got fed up with his side conceding so many goals and tasked his coaching staff with sorting out the defensive performances. Therefore LFC go from 15 goals conceded in a ten game spell to 6 goals conceded in the next ten game spell with the exact same personnel, apart from Andrew Robertson’s fine debut at home to Palace a couple of weeks ago. You can still argue that it was a ‘nice run of fixtures’ or ‘sheer luck’, and that’s an argument that can be made. However anybody watching LFC over the past two seasons will have seen that Klopp improves players, so you could make a counter-argument that it just took longer for his magic to work on the defensive side of their game.

Any defence will obviously still have ‘off-days’ where you could , ooh I dunno, concede three goals away to Watford (HAH! Evidence that they’re shit in defence!) or concede three at home to Burnley (What? Chelsea? The Champions? Oh, but that’s just a fluke, right?).

Chelsea Burnley
Ropey Defence. LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE. 

It’s accepted wisdom that if you reduce the amount of goals conceded in a league season to below thirty, you’re almost certain to win the league. LFC have conceded 3 goals in 4 games, which extrapolated out over 38 games puts them on target to concede 28.5 goals. I’m already blaming Moreno for the .5 goal you know. I’m not saying that this level of defensive performance will happen, but stretching it out to the last ten games, they’re on target to concede 22.8 goals….I’ll stop now…

So time will tell if the Liverpool defence will continue to be the achilles heel of this team, but if you analyse last season (which I’m sure most of you have) it was the absence of Sadio Mane in January/February that many will tell you really hurt Liverpool. The team was used to (and perhaps accepted) conceding a goal a game when they were scoring three in reply, but when the goals dried up those goals meant losses and draws. In the event of an absence of Mane this season, the transfer window captures of Mo Salah, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Dominic Solanke should ensure that Liverpool continue to score two or more goals a game while the defence continues to leak more than the White House (or not, eh?). The start that Mo Salah has made to his Liverpool career should not be overlooked, as he has been simply sensational. In fact he’s been so prominent and successful in getting into attacking positions that I believe he needs to work on his finishing – that may sound like a negative, but it’s a real positive in that he could/should have had another couple of goals this season at least, and Liverpool have scored SEVEN in three games for crying out loud.

Salah
On your marks…Get set…Too late, I already won…

The full-back options open to Jurgen Klopp should be another reason why this transfer window should be considered a qualified success for LFC. Last season ended with an underwhelming Nathaniel ‘Patsy’ Clyne at right-back and a fish out of water James Milner at left-back. However now at the start of September with a rejuvenated Alberto Moreno battling with new acquisition (and seriously impressive clean-sheet keeping debutant) Andrew Robertson for the left-back slot, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joe Gomez seemingly locked in an incredibly high quality battle to the death to secure the right-back slot, with ‘Patsy’ Clyne humming ‘Crazy’ while rocking back and forth on the bench…

Of course the fact that the left-back slot is now so well covered means that James Milner has been freed to roam freely in the fresh green pastures of midfield, where he’s now battling Henderson, Can, Wijnaldum, Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Coutinho (steady…that’s a different blog) and from next season Naby Keita for one of the three midfield berths. Now I’m not sure if you can count as well as me but that’s EIGHT players (all of whom are a billion miles better than Kevin Stewart, and that’s not a slight on Kevin) battling for THREE places. Depth? A nuclear submarine could get lost in that depth.

There is now genuine competition for places in every part of the Liverpool team, even in goal. Just when it seemed that Mignolet had seen off Loris ‘Fandango’ Karius, Klopp drops one for the other in a move that I can only describe as ‘sharp’. It was a clear message to Mignolet to not let his standards drop for a second, lest Karius will usurp him in the blink of an eye. It’s quality management by Klopp who has worked out that a complacent Mignolet is a flappy Mignolet. He’ll have him on his toes so much this season Mignolet may well end up starring in Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall before May. He’d look good in a Desmond.

Simon Mignolet Yellow

So when I take a cold, calculated look at the ‘new’ squad as a whole, I feel that LFC fans should be satisfied with the business done. However I accept that others may not feel as sated, and that’s perfectly acceptable. What is not acceptable however is the vitriol that I see on Twitter from so-called LFC ‘fans‘ who ‘want what’s best‘ and won’t ‘accept failure‘. Let me make one thing clear to you all. If I see you on Twitter claiming to be a ‘fan‘ but aiming direct abuse at a player/owner/owner’s wife, I’m going to screenshot it and I’m going to start a new blog and highlight you to the world (or at least the 4 people who will read this). On a serious note, enough is enough. You don’t have to be happy-clappy and believe that all is well in the world of Liverpool Football Club, but abusing your own while claiming to be a ‘fan’ doesn’t wash with me. You have been warned.

Anyway, enough of the negativity, UP THE DEFENSIVELY IMPROVING GOOD TRANSFER WINDOW SCORING GOALS AT WILL CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGE REDS (utdigtwsgawclgsr…that acronym needs work)

 

Liverpool 2-1 Burnley: The Ranting Rebel Ratings

 

Yes, I know there’s been another gap between ratings, but there’s another good reason for that…the work I had done with the lads before the Spurs game was nowhere near enough. I had foolishly thought that my motivational speeches and psychological guidance would see the lads flourish against the big teams AND the rest…but following the Leicester debacle, I realised my folly, and was back over to Melwood quicker than Jurgen could say ‘I want a refund, you cheeky Irish git’…

Simon Mignolet Yellow

Simon Mignolet:

 

One of my tips to Jurgen was to proclaim to the world that he didn’t need a new goalkeeper this summer, and here’s the logic:

  1. It will make the incumbent keepers feel a bit better about themselves, and should result in a boost of self-esteem, which would lead to a boost in performances
  2. If you publicly state that you’re looking for a new keeper, then every sodding keeper on planet earth will have an extra ‘0’ added onto their price tag and weekly wage demands.

Makes sense, right?

Simon took to the field on Sunday with his self-esteem at record new highs, which led to an unfortunate incident pre-match when Ragnar Klavan accidentally kicked his boot across the dressing room, leading to Migs roaring into his face “Don’t you know who I am? I’m the king of the world! I’m the greatest! I’m the glorious lovechild of Lev Yashin and Gordon Banks following a saucy encounter in a laboratory in Brussels in the late 80’s”.

Nothing like a bit of self-confidence, eh?

Thankfully Migs backed up his words on the pitch with a flawless display against a team that thought they had sussed out his (and his teammates) weaknesses. Long ball after long ball was humped towards the edge of Mignolet’s box, but time and again he came strongly (ooo-errr missus!), to fist cleanly (now stop it…) away.

I’m working on deflating his ego just a tad this week, after he tried to chat up nine of the other players wives with the same chat up line. ‘Belgium is famous for it’s waffles, do ya wanna taste my batter?’

Give me strength…

8/10 

Nathaniel Clyne

Nathaniel Clyne:

 

You may have noticed that Patsy has quite a bit of ink, pretty much from the neck down is covered in ‘body art’…or that’s what he wants you to think.

The truth is that Patsy is a bit, how shall I put this…’Hard Of Thinking’. In essence, he’s one Spice Girl short of a reunion tour, and all that ‘body art’ is actually notes, hints and tips on every aspect of his game.

Before you judge him, think back to your school days. Yep, we’ve all done it, writing notes/formula on our palms or shirt cuffs, or the name of that Welsh town with the longest name in the world on our penis….or maybe that’s just me who was able to fit it all in…in BLOCK CAPITALS….

So the next time you see Patsy hesitate when a quick cross is on, remember that it’s not his fault. He’s just searching for the instructions on what to do next.

Klavan got the blame for the goal conceded, but for me Patsy forgot to read the instruction on his left butt cheek that says ‘Cover and sweep behind the centre-backs when a striker peels off them’.

Unfortunately yesterday he played like all the notes were written in invisible ink. I’m not sure my words of wisdom were much use at half-time when I told him to ‘just bloody copy what the Burnley right-back did when he set up their goal’.

The single tear that rolled down his cheek will haunt me for a good few days y’know.

6/10. 

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan:

 

While our right-back has a brain function that buffers more than a porn video in 1997, our Estonian centre-half has the memory of a goldfish.

You would think that being absolutely roasted last August by a fella called Andre Gray might stick with you, but in the first half Ragnar played like he’d never seen the man before in his life, and made pretty much the exact same mistakes as he had at Turf Moor.

Incidentally, Turf Moor is Irish for ‘Big Turf’. I just realised that.

Anway, I digress. After half-time, when I pulled Ragnar aside and showed him You Tube clips of the beasting he got from Gray last August, y’know, to prove that it actually fecking happened, he had a moment of clarity and suddenly he knew what he had to do…so he did it.

Hale-fecking-liua.

In the second half he was big, strong and had Gray in his pocket for the remainder of his time on the pitch.

7/10

joel-matip

Joel Matip: 

To say that the heart of the Liverpool defence has been ‘changeable’ would be a bloody understatement. There’s been more changes in the Liverpool rearguard than there’s been Ed Sheeran songs in the Top 20 this week.

Joel was tasked with creating a ‘working relationship’ with Ragnar Klavan yesterday,  and deep down he knew this relationship was one of many he has to nurture. For a start, Dejan Lovren was peering down from the stands, waiting for his chance to show Joel some love, not to mention Shut Up Shop Ltd on the bench bursting to get back into a manly embrace with Joel, but it’s also the fact that Billy Joel had sung about this exact scenario in his 1986 song ‘A Matter Of Trust’….

 

Some love is just a lie of the heart
The cold remains of what began with a passionate start
And they may not want it to end
But it will it’s just a question of when
I’ve lived long enough to have learned
The closer you get to the fire the more you get burned
But that won’t happen to us
Cause it’s always been a matter of trust

Indeed, Joel has to build that trust with three different men this season, and that’s leaving aside the fact that Emre Can keeps butting in every five minutes, and he’s a hard man to ignore when you’re trying to build a relationship. I should know, my wife keeps drooling over him every 5 minutes.

I’ve said too much.

8/10

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

You know the ‘Bleep Test’?

That training exercise where you run from Point A to Point B before the buzzer goes at each end, which just speeds up as you get more knackered?

I believe that some of the world’s fittest athletes get to Level 14 before keeling over.

James Milner is currently at Level 863, and is still going. Up and down that left wing, trying to get a cross in before the buzzer goes, then back down the wing, trying to chase a ball into the oppositions flying forward, which they KEEP. BLOODY. PLAYING. BETWEEN. MILNER. AND. THE. CENTRE. BACK….

The poor man started the season standing 5’10” in his socks, and he’s now 5′ 8″ as his legs have been worn away.

But he just keeps running….

7/10

Emre Can

Emre Can: 

 

£35,000 a week might sound like a lot of money to me and you, but to Emre Can it’s a major bone of contention for him as he seeks to hammer out a new contract. He’s looking for around £70,000 a week (you’re hearing £100,000 a week, but you’ve got to highball first in any negotiation, right?).

I’m not saying that my motivational tactics with the lads work 100% of the time, but here’s what I tweeted at half-time:

Tweet 1

Within 15 minutes of that tweet, Jackie had hit a 25 yard daisy-cutting, worm-burning thunderbastard into the back of net at the Kop end, and then launched himself into a knee-slide celebration that made everyone over the age of 37 envious.

You’re welcome.

Leaving aside the ‘real world money’ argument, in modern football Emre Can has got to be worth £70,000 a week on a new contract, if only for the fact that a new contract increases his selling price if it ever comes to that. Sign him up Jurgen.

Oh, and stop playing silly buggers Emre. Good lad.

8/10

 Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

 

What you may not know about Adam is that he’s quite insecure in himself.

He knows he’s got all the tools to be a top class footballer, but you might be surprised to know that footballers don’t always just think about football.

Adam is into his ‘looks’ because he’s compensating for his insecurities surrounding his appearance. That’s why he moisturises 19 times a day and why his skin holds more moisture than the Great Barrier Reef.

His performance yesterday, while not bad, was not up to it’s usual high standards, as Adam realised just before kick off that he was now playing in arguably the most handsome midfield in world football….and he soiled himself.

Jurgen tried to help by hugging him for 12 minutes straight, while stroking his hair, but it didn’t work, and now Jurgen can’t hold anything without it slipping right out of his grasp.

Nivea has a challenge on it’s hands. Does it try and make Adam more handsome, or does it take Gini/Emre into a back alley and smash their faces in?

Decision, decisions.

7/10.

Wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

Composure.

It’s a rare commodity.

When the most gorgeous woman in the bar approaches you and tells you she wants you right now, do you jauntily raise an eyebrow, smirk and tell her she’s made a wise decision, or do you shake uncontrollably, dribble like a teething baby and make a squeaky noise associated with pet toys?

Aye, exactly.

Gini showed incredible composure on the stroke of half-time as the ball ricocheted between him and Mee (no, not him and me, him and Mee. No, not me, Mee. Oh forget it…). While Mee stretched out a leg in vain (no, not me, Mee), and Ward charged towards him, and Heaton did his best starfish impression, Gini went all ‘Matrix’ and made the world pause…before slamming the ball into the net.

Gini is like ‘Hawkeye’ in the Avengers movies. The big names like Iron Man or Hulk or Thor with all their fancy moves tend to get all the attention, but when they don’t show up, the Avengers need someone else to come to the rescue. So as Phil/Bobby/Sadio have gone missing at various times this season, Gini has stepped up with goals against City/Chelsea/Arsenal and Burnley.

I know which one I prefer right now.

9/10

origi

Divock Origi:

 

Some said that this was a ‘huge chance’ for Divock and that he must grab it with both hands.

Some said that he blew his big chance.

Some talk an awful lot of guff.

Make no mistake about it, Bobby Firmino comes back into this team as soon as he’s fit, so nothing Divock did yesterday was ever going to change that. He knows it, and I know it, and you should know it.

That’s not to say that he didn’t do well though. While the Fantasy Football stats may only give him one assist, in the real world, he has two. It was his cross to Gini that set up the equaliser, as well as his pass to Emre that set up the winner.

What more can he do?

Well yes, of course he could score. I take your point. Alright, nobody likes a smartarse.

8/10.

coutinho

Philippe Coutinho:

Dearest Philippe,

Have you ever seen ‘The Three Amigos’ movie?

It’s a cracker, I highly recommend it. Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and Martin Short combine wonderfully to make you howl with laughter for 90 minutes.

However, I’ve found that when the ‘Three Amigos’ are seperated, they’re funny, but not THAT funny. I mean Chevy Chase can be downright annoying, Martin Short is barely noticeable and Steve Martin, while clearly a very funny man, needs someone opposite him to truly thrive.

I know that Bobby F was missing yesterday, but that can’t excuse that performance Phil. You were DIRE. I’ve never done this before, but yesterday I felt I had to. I tweeted about you Phil. I feel dirty, but strangely vindicated.

Tweet 2

I know you’re annoyed at Jurgen for hooking you, but as you can see now, it was all me Phil. I’m not sorry either. This ‘thing’ we have has to be a two-way street. Since your return from injury, it’s been all ‘take, take, take’ from you. What have you given me? Do I not deserve the very best? Is the magic gone between us Phil? Just say the word and I’ll be out of here! Just be honest with me Phil, that’s all I ask.

As always,

Love you,

Xxx

5/10

sadio-mane

Sadio Mane:

 

The one player I have to spend the least amount of time with is Sadio. He’s just got all the self-confidence you could want, and shows it out on the pitch. He was Liverpool’s only real threat during that woeful opening half, and he kept the Burnley defence on edge all match long.

On more than one occasion he was inches away from the perfect pass to set up a goal.

The thought of Sadio on top song against THAT City defence next weekend makes me happy.

8/10

Substitutes:

lucas

Shut Up Shop Ltd:

 

11 minutes left when the barriers came down, and they stayed firmly down until the full-time whistle.

Not only did Lucas shore things up, he also found himself rampaging forward with the ball at his feet, 30 yards from goal. Even he realised how daft that situation was…

7/10

ben-woodburn

Ben Woodburn:

 

How would you feel if you woke on Monday morning and remembered that you were brought on by Jurgen Klopp after an hour to replace Philippe Coutinho?

Aye, exactly. That’s why Ben is walking around with an 8 hour erection as I type. Ah, the miracle of youth.

He did pretty well too.

7/10

 


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

Right Jurgen, you’ve had the benefit of my presence before Spurs and now Burnley, so every other game this season will be degrees of each.

10 games to go. You’ll be fine for the next two, that’s a nailed on six points, but it’s the final 8 that will really tell us about this team: Bournemouth (fighting), Stoke (on the beach), West Brom (on the beach), Palace (probably on the beach by then), Watford (on the beach), Southampton (on the beach and we owe them one), West Ham (on the beach and a bit sh*t), Boro (in the Championship by then).

If you need me, you know where I am. You’ve already started using my advice, so keep it up. I like the whole ‘I don’t have a Plan B’ thing, that was beautiful. Just remember to pick Moreno every now and again and you’ll have everyone fooled. LOL.

7/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook (facebook.com/rantsofarebel)

Liverpool 2-0 Spurs: The Ranting Rebel Ratings

Before I begin, a quick update. I haven’t posted a blog for a few games now because, as I told those of you who were kind enough to ask for/demand a blog, I was weighed down with many, many mundane issues that have taken up my time. I can now reveal that was a lie…

Things had to come to a head, enough was enough, so I made a decision…

I went to Liverpool a couple of weeks ago to sort things out once and for all.

I gave Jurgen a call, arranged to have dinner with Philippe and I’ll now begin…

Simon Mignolet Yellow

Simon Mignolet:

 

From my seat in the Anfield Road end, it appeared that Simon Mignolet is very small. Of course it’s simply that he was very far away at the Kop end.

In person he’s a very imposing man, a big strong strapping lad who towers over you, almost intimidatingly so…especially when you’re outlining the most witty descriptions of him that I’d heard, like ‘deranged gibbon’, ‘Dracula on prozac’, ‘Belgian beer bottle-squatting twat’ and ‘as useful as a langer in a lesbian orgy’.

Thankfully we saw eye to eye in the end and there were no hard feelings, and I like to think the chat worked. Migs was commanding, dominant, made a few good saves and never really looked threatened.

Before I departed Anfield, I stuck a note in his locker for him to read before any game in the future. It says:

‘You Are Simon Mignolet. Not A Langer’

I just hope I put it in the right locker or somebody could be very confused today.

8/10 

Nathaniel Clyne

Nathaniel Clyne:

 

I always had Patsy pegged as a straight-laced, formal type of guy, no airs and graces and certainly no sign of rebellion in his personality.

Therefore I was stunned when he arrived for our pre-arranged pep talk dressed like Jazz from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. To top all that he was giving me pure attitude, muttering under his breath with a constant smirk on his mush.

I knew what had to be done, and luckily someone got a picture of what happened next:

jazz-fresh-prince

I know, I know, the new Main Stand is a bit fancy, right?

In conclusion, let’s just say that Patsy will be less in-Clyned to rip the piss in the future.

ITHANGYEW.

8/10. 

lucas

Shut Up Shop Ltd:

 

I smirked as I saw the usual Twitter meltdown when the teams were announced at 4.30pm with the name ‘Lucas Leiva’ at CB. The hysteria was approaching the levels I would expect if Donald Trump was seen riding a nuke headed to North Korea wearing a cowboy hat with ‘Kim Jung Un can kiss my orange ass’ on his t-shirt.

Unbeknownst to most, Lucas was actually stood beside me when that shit-storm kicked off, acting as my ‘minder’ while I leveled a few home-truths at the rest of the squad. As a senior squad member he demanded that I be listened to and respected…until it came to his turn that is…

Let’s just say that the reason he had a pop at that Joseph Musker lad on Twitter was because he was a bit upset at the home-truths I delivered to his doorstep:

lucas-twitter-1Lucas Twitter.PNG

Mind you, he’s right. Anybody spouting that kind of shite on Twitter needs to be exterminated, immediately. Isn’t that right Donald?

Oh, and before I forget, Harry Kane was released back to Spurs on Sunday afternoon at 2.54pm after Lucas found him in his pocket.

8/10

joel-matip

Joel Matip: 

 

NEWSFLASH:

BILLY JOEL IS NOT JOEL MATIP’S FATHER….

I know. I’m still reeling from the news myself. It’s like the Darth Vader/Luke Skywalker revelation, but in reverse.

Of course it took 98 pages of birth certs, sworn affidavits, a DNA test and a very uncomfortable phone call with Billy Joel himself before I believed it, but I’m satisfied that he’s really not his father…after I learned every lyric Billy wrote too. That’s 9 months of my life I’ll never get back.

In any case, I asked Joel (as I asked all the players) if he wanted me to reveal what I said to him during our ‘chat’, and Joel is the only one who didn’t mind, so here’s what I said to Joel Matip:

Don’t go changing to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore

I wouldn’t leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times; I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are

Sorry. Not sorry.

8/10

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

Have you ever tried to have a meaningful heart to heart with a Yorkshireman?

It’s like trying to get a baboon to recite the Greek alphabet…you don’t get much back.

However I’m a master of motivation, so when my words didn’t cut the mustard, I decided to cut the gravy…

Yes, for every goal conceded by Liverpool for the rest of the season, James Milner will have one less pint of gravy that week. But I’m not a monster, so I included a motivational aspect too…for every goal he scores or assists, he gets an extra pint of gravy that week.

I’m not sure that’s the best idea I’ve ever had though because he fecking dived looking for a penalty within 30 seconds of our deal being agreed. It was 1.30pm last Tuesday…

Still, a clean sheet is a clean sheet, so that’s good, right? Mind you, with two weeks until his next game, he could look like the bloody Michelin man against Leicester City.

7/10

jordan-henderson

Jordan Henderson: 

 

Captain Henderson is being lavished with praise today as the news emerges of a ‘player-only’ meeting that he called, excluding Jurgen Klopp, where the players all had an open, honest and frank exchange of views, which led to the performance we all saw against Spurs.

I can now confirm that it wasn’t a ‘player-only meeting’…because I was there and it was my bloody idea. Don’t believe all you read in the media folks. Alternative facts my arse.

Anyway, I don’t care who gets the credit, as it worked, and to be fair to Hendo he delivered one of the most passionate, goose-bump-raising, hair-on-the-back-of-your-neck-bristling speeches I’ve ever heard (apart from when I listen back to my own). It was magnificent.

Nobody understood a bloody word, but we all got the gist of it.

Leader.

8/10

 Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

I find that to get an open and honest conversation going with a player you sometimes have to do what they do, so they feel that you’re ‘one of them’ and can be trusted.

After applying 9 litres of Nivea to myself I now look 10 years younger, my scrotum has no wrinkles whatsoever and I literally slid out of bed last night. Remarkable.

My ploy worked though as Adam and I had a great chat covering lots of topics; from Bouremouth Lap Dancers to taking out Jurgen Klopps bins. Mind you, during our 45 minute chat Adam ran 12 miles around the room. He just can’t stand still. It could be boundless energy…but it could also be a reaction to the Nivea….

Whatever he’s doing, it’s working, especially when he’s got the three amigo’s in front of him.

8/10.

 

Wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

Go on then…what sweet do you think I brought to my one-on-one meeting with Gini last week…

Yep, you guessed it….a bag of Revels.

No, I’m not being obtuse, there was a point to it. There have been games this season where Gini has been oustanding. The goals at home to Chelsea and City stand out, but he was pretty bloody good away to Arsenal and Chelsea too. However he’s also had a few ‘Coffee Revels’ this season which make you want to explosively eject your tongue from your mouth…

So the basis of my ‘chat’ with Gini was him munching through a bag of Revels and shouting out the games he’s played this season that match with the flavour Revel he happened to get.

I’m not one for predictions, but I seriously doubt we’ll be seeing a ‘Coffee Revel’ performance from Gini ever again.

Oh, and ‘Coffee Revel Vomit’ is as grim as you’d imagine. *shudder*

9/10

 

firmino

Roberto Firmino:

 

Since the advent of social media, the world is awash with people who claim to be ‘In The Know’…they know why players are so effective, or why they’re out of form…and to a man (or woman), they’re all full of sh*t.

It wasn’t until I sat down at length with Bobby that I discovered why his form had dipped so drastically. From the outside looking in I thought it was the almost symbiotic relationship with Philippe that he was missing…but I was wrong.

The truth of the matter is that Bobby Firmino has been a major twat and is now embarrassed to be…well, Bobby Firmino. Look, we’ve all done something in our past that we’re not proud of and we’d all rather forget, and Bobby is no different. To add to that he was facing a (deserved) court case where there was always an element of doubt as to what punishment he would be facing, and that’s going to affect you, no matter what walk of life you come from. If you’re a bricklayer and facing a serious court case, you’re not going to be laying as many bricks in the weeks leading up to the case, are you?

Once it became clear what the issue with Bobby was, I was tempted to just leave it alone. The court case was over, his punishment has been delivered and that was that, right?

Heh. Don’t you know me at all?

To cut a long story short, I got Bobby Firmino absolutely trollied – and I use that word for a reason. Basically I got him flutered/balooba’d/banjaxed/wankered/smashed/arseified (select your favourite) on 23 pints of Guinness, strapped him into a shopping trolley and rolled him down Abbey Road while I got 4 lads to walk across the pedestrian crossing as Bobby hurtled towards them. It was to demonstrate that what he did ran the same risks as he now faced.

The poor lad soiled himself, but got the message very, very quickly.

Maybe a weight is now off his shoulders? He was certainly back to form against Spurs…although his shite is still jet black and probably will be for some time.

8/10.

coutinho

Philippe Coutinho:

Dearest Philippe,

 

Some have accused me of playing favourites as our meeting was over a candle-lit dinner and the rest of my player meetings…weren’t.

However you know you’re special, and I know you’re special and our dinner…was special.

I’ll never reveal this to the other players, but there was a specific reason why our meeting was over a romantic dinner. I wanted you to play footsie with me under the table…using just your left foot. I mean, you never use it for anything else and I’ll try anything to get you using it in a game…

Love you xxx

7/10

sadio-mane

Sadio Mane:

My meeting with Sadio was the shortest of the lot.

I can’t divulge too much information of course but suffice to say that Sadio looked me dead in the eye, told me none of this mess was down to him, admitted that he skewed that penalty in the AFCON on purpose after receiving my SOS SMS, and he said he’d sort it.

The man is true to his word. He eviscerated Ben Davies and friends.

Majestic.

9/10

Substitutes:

Emre Can

Emre Can:

 

My meeting with Emre didn’t go according to my plan. I called him ‘Jackie’ one time too many and was spark out after he hit me with a 6″ punch.

Yep, no similarities there at all.

At least he showed the same ruthless efficiency when he came on to see the game out. Job done.

7/10

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan:

 

What do you do when the Security company you hired to do a job suddenly goes down sick?

You bring on a bouncer. He asked Dele Alli for I.D. and then barred him from the penalty box.

N/A

trent-alexander-arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold:

 

You might think that getting thrown on with seconds left so the star player can get a standing ovation is a bit demeaning, but all these players are on appearance bonuses.

Those few seconds could buy TAA 1,890 Happy Meals.

N/A


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

You’re welcome Jurgen, it was my pleasure, and I’m around to do it again if you ever feel the need.

However I think you’re set for the rest of the season now. They’re a great bunch of lads and it was great to get to know them all in person.

As for our meeting, I enjoyed it but I don’t think I’ll have another schnitzel for quite a while. I’m glad you took my advice and are taking the lads off for a few days in the sun. Thanks for the offer to attend with you but my small fella has something on Thursday night that I have to be there for.

Don’t forget the Factor 50!

8/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook (facebook.com/rantsofarebel)

Liverpool 0-1 Wolves: The Ranting Rebel FA Cup 4th Round Ratings

loris-karius

Loris Karius:

 

How’s your 2017 going?

No matter how disheartened you may be about Liverpool’s recent form, you’d have to be having a spectacularly harrowing 2017 to have it worse than Loris Karius right now.

Poor Fandango started the season with a broken wrist, got his place back in the team, lost it again, but was comforted by the news that he would be the ‘Cup Keeper’ for the rest of the season. A Wembley final beckoned, a home 3rd round tie against a fourth tier side was on the horizon, and while not where he wanted to be, Karius could at least console himself with the prospect of plenty of games for the next few months where he could seek to impress Klopp and change his mind about the No. 1 shirt.

Fast forward to January 28th 2017 and Loris Karius now faces the best part of 4 months picking splinters out of his arse, with no cup games scheduled until at least next August.

Of course he’s not just a victim here. He must carry some of the blame for the predicament he finds himself in. While the marking for the Wolves opener was appalling, Stearman headed the ball just 4 yards from goal. There were no bodies impeding Karius from coming to claim the cross, so it is his hesitation, as much as the statuesque defending, that is at fault for the opener.

As for the second goal, well in truth that summed up the whole Liverpool team yesterday. Too often the men in red made it look like they were trying, while in reality they were getting out of the way – all talk with very little walk. When Karius came charging out of his goal when Weimann was clean through he should at the very least be clattering into him, risking a penalty and a red card, but preventing a certain goal. Instead he slid harmlessly out of the way to allow the Wolves man to walk the ball into an empty net.

Still, at least his hair was immaculate, as it shall be for the remainder of the season on the bench.

5/10 

Connor Randall

Conor Randall:

 

I’m not saying that this guy has been out of the picture for a while, but you wouldn’t believe how far back I had to go through my picture database to find his mugshot. I whizzed past Flanagan’s and Norwich City crests and even a shot of Chirivella…aye, it was like taking a stroll through last season.

Of course I’m now deleting his mugshot from the database, as we sure as hell won’t be seeing Conor Randall in a Liverpool first XI ever again.

When you’re two down at home to a team from a lower tier, and you’re hooked at half-time in a change that necessitates a change in formation as well as personnel, well the writing is on the wall.

The fact that the man you were marking (less than a yard away from) managed to walk the ball into the net at the Kop end, while you aren’t even in the picture, is merely the nail on the coffin which bears the inscription:

‘For Sale: One Promising LFC Youngster Not Quite Good Enough To Make It At This Level’

I wish Conor all the best in the future, and for encouragement he should look at young Conor Coady who was very impressive for Wolves yesterday. He too didn’t quite cut it at Melwood, but has gone on to find himself a central part of a Championship side.

4/10. 

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan:

 

While not directly responsible for either of the goals, you have to ask why the senior member of the defence (did I ever tell you he has over 130 caps for Estonia?) allowed both himself AND Joe Gomez to mark players at the near post while the defensive stalwarts that are Gini Wijnaldum and Divock Origi were marking their big centre-half at the far stick.

F*cking nonsense.

Jurgen picked a ‘young’ team, but he was relying heavily on those senior players to step up when it counted, and to a man they disappeared off the face of the planet. The defence was shambolic as soon as the merest hint of pressure was applied with young Joe Gomez the only one seemingly capable of showing any kind of composure.

That’s a damning indictment of Klavan who I suspect will find himself fourth choice CB next season, if he even remains at Anfield. Deary me, some players really mapped out their futures yesterday, eh?

5/10

joe-gomez

Joe Gomez: 

 

HURRAH! A BRIGHT SPOT!

Well, it’s not exactly dazzlingly bright. In fact you wouldn’t need sunglasses, and a mere squint would probably do it, but still, at least it’s not another black hole of despair…

This kid is class and, at the risk of coming across all Louis Walsh (no, not in that way, although I have some tales that would raise your eyebrows above your hairline), he’s going to be HUGE…

Now steadily making his way back from a horror 15-month injury nightmare, he’s comfortably third choice CB right now for Liverpool Football Club, has got himself a brand spanking new shiny five year contract, and has just watched Ragnar Klavan shoot himself in the foot.

What odds a Gomez / Matip CB partnership next season?

7/10

alberto-moreno

Alberto Moreno: 

 

He can’t even foul his man who’s about to play his teammate in for a certain goal.

HOW F*CKING HOPELESS CAN A ‘DEFENDER’ BE? 

He’s predominantly left-footed but when he gets himself forward on the left wing he repeatedly cuts inside onto his weaker foot, narrows the pitch, and contributes NOTHING going forward.

HOW F*CKING HOPELESS CAN A ‘FULL-BACK’ BE? 

Enough is enough.

4/10

lucas

Lucas Leiva: 

 

I’m reliably informed that a representative of Inter Milan watched the match yesterday and breathed a sigh of relief so hard that it registered as a Force 6 Gale on the Beaufort Scale in Milan at 3.3opm local time.

Awful. Truly awful.

Mind you, we all knew that Lucas as a defensive midfielder was a busted flush, so quite what Jurgen was thinking with that selection, I’ll never know.

Unfortunately we’ve reached the point where Lucas contributes nothing to the cause. He can’t play in midfield anymore and he makes the defence weaker when he’s slotted in there. The sight of anIcelandic big lump of a forward racing past him, getting to the byline, cutting back and almost making it three will live long in the memory…and make me sit bolt upright at 3am in a cold sweat.

Marvellous.

4/10

wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

I don’t like this new flavour of wine gum.

While you chew, it makes you foam at the mouth and yell expletives at the TV, while after it’s all over it leaves a horrible, bitter aftertaste and deep sense of resentment .

Another ‘senior’ player who was truly awful when we needed him to turn up and lead the kids. Outshone easily by Ejaria (more of which next), we have a supposedly attacking midfielder who doesn’t score away from home, but can’t bring himself to score at home much either.

He needed to DEMAND the ball. He didn’t.

He needed to LEAD BY EXAMPLE. He didn’t.

He needed to ROAR FORWARD. He didn’t.

He needed to PLAY ATTACKING FORWARD PASSES. He didn’t.

The hero of the day on the last day of 2016…how the mighty have fallen. It’s clear that Jurgen prefers Can whenever possible (I’ll leave you to shout at the screen now), so when we finally have everyone back (this Tuesday by all accounts), Gini is going to be sat on the bench…isn’t he?

5/10.

ovie-ejaria

Ovie Ejaria:

 

Ovie looked to be the stand-out midfielder for Liverpool yesterday, and this is one of those glass half full / glass half empty moments.

If you’re an optimist, you feel that he showed his quality and that he’s a real prospect, very raw, with a huge improvement and future ahead of him.

If you’re a pessimist, you feel that it wasn’t bloody hard to stand out among the utter dross on display yesterday.

On a day as depressing as yesterday, I’m looking for rays of hope, so I’m going to be an optimist. Having said that, it was positive like being told you’ve got a 51% chance of survival. It’s not exactly a reason to break out the bunting.

6/10

 firmino

Roberto Firmino: 

 

This guy is hot and cold like an Eskimo drying his balls with a hairdryer.

Terrible yesterday. Just terrible. Poor touches, poor passing, poor vision. The only thing dazzling about him was his teeth, and even they’ve faded in recent weeks.

Maybe a quick trip to the dentist and a full teeth bleaching will bring back the dazzling smile we saw earlier in the season…so I’ve made an appointment for Bobby for Monday afternoon.

5/10.

ben-woodburn

Ben Woodburn:

 

He looked more of a first-team regular than the first-team regulars did, despite the fact that he was asked to play Right Wing Back for the second half, and still isn’t old enough to have a beer to calm the nerves.

I have high hopes for Ben Woodburn, particularly as I watched the likes of Fowler and Owen breakthrough, and remember the kind of impact they had on LFC. However I’m growing weary and wary of ‘modern’ football, and I know the odds on young Ben Woodburn ‘making it’ are growing slimmer by the month.

Go on Ben, prove everyone wrong.

6/10.

origi

Divock Origi:

 

Well, he scored.

In a period of the season when we had two ‘back up’ centre forwards who we needed to bring it when it mattered, they’ve both failed, although some have failed more than others….

That’s all I gotta say about that.

6/10

Substitutes:

coutinho

Philippe Coutinho:

 

Dearest Philippe,

It’s all booked.

You, Bobby and Sadio, Tuesday morning, at that Spa Resort I told you about.

I’ve got you all booked in for a pampering session, facials, indian head massages, the lot. Then there’s a DVD in the room for you all to watch, called ‘The Three Amigos’. Finally I’m going to meet you all for a quick heart to heart at 3pm before you head to Anfield for the game.

What I’m going to tell you there will change you all forever and ensure victory against Chelsea. You have my word.

Love you xxx

6/10

sturridge

Daniel Sturridge:

 

I wish someone would let Daniel know that when he does a really clever turn to beat his man, he’s unlikely to be able to repeat the trick…3 SECONDS LATER….

Time after time, a turn became another turn, and possession was squandered once more.

Credit where it’s due though, nice assist for the goal. However in the game itself, and this season as a whole, it was too little, too late.

6/10

Emre Can

Emre Can:

Meh.

Yeah, that sums it up.

6/10


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

Note: This may take a while, so if you’re in a rush maybe come back to it later….

premier-league-table

Do me a favour. Take a look at that table. Now, forget about everything that has happened since August. Take yourself back to July…the sun is shining, you’re on your holiday in Spain/Portugal/Turkey/wherever, and you’re looking forward to the new season. A mysterious stranger walks over to you as you bake on your sunlounger and claims that he’s from the future, and he can tell you where Liverpool will be in late January 2017. He tells you who will be President Of The United States and who will be playing the Mens/Womens Australian Open Tennis Finals.

Trump as POTUS? Venus v Serena? Fed v Rafa? LFC in 4th, 2 points off second?

He’s clearly mugging you off, right?

Yet here we are.

Trump is POTUS and a serving British MP can’t travel to America anymore. Serena beat her sister to overtake Steffi Graf. As I type Roger is 5-3 up in the fifth and serving for the title at 35 years of age.

And Liverpool ARE in 4th, two points off second, 10 points off the top with a home game against the leaders on Tuesday night.

Now stop and think about the reaction that you’ve seen over the past month to the problems that Liverpool have had. Yes, it’s a slump, a dip in form, a deeply concerning run of results…BUT…

I’m not saying that the domestic cup competitions are trivial. I love watching Liverpool win trophies at any time, but in ‘modern’ football (and I hate myself for making this point), the Premier League and associated places at the Champions League table trump everything else (if you’ll pardon the pun). LFC have played 8 games in January, but only 3 have been in the league. The draw at Sunderland was disappointing but hardly a disaster. The point at United was disappointing, but only due to the fact that the team was minutes from victory. The defeat at home to Swansea WAS an unmitigated disaster, there’s no point in denying that. HOWEVER…

If Liverpool had played 8 LEAGUE games in January with a record of W1 D2 L4, then it’s likely that the chances of a Top 4 finish would be all but extinguished. Top 6 would be a challenge. So while the slump in form is extremely disappointing, the silver lining is that it hasn’t affected the top priority as much as it could have. Obviously if it continues over the next 8 games, then the season as a whole will be a bust, and the loss of the domestic cups will sting even more than they do now (and believe me, I’m hurting, which is why I left it 24 hours before putting my thoughts on record).

There is still LOADS to play for. Should Liverpool secure a Top 4 spot this season, the Champions League is on the agenda for next season, and that changes everything, including and perhaps most importantly, in the transfer market. I’ve seen a lot of criticism of FSG/Klopp over their transfer dealings, but so many people seem to forget that it is incredibly difficult for a team to attract the kind of quality/talent to the club without being in the Champions League. They also seem to forget that Jurgen Klopp is NOT a chequebook manager, and FSG have made it clear that they are NOT chequebook owners. It’s not like they’ve come in and lied to everyone about this stance. They’ve found the manager who has similar beliefs to their own, and up to a month ago the vast majority of LFC fans were full of praise for both.

The calls for Klopp to buy this January have been bizarre and quite frankly ridiculous. I’ve rarely seen anybody identify players who were guaranteed to bring an improvement to the team. In fact, the only actual detail that I’ve seen from those demanding additions to the squad has been ‘We need a fast winger’. Well jeez, thanks for that! That’s that sorted then! All Jurgen has to do is have a quick peek at Football Manager, pick one out of the list, and bobs your uncle, we’d win the Premier League at a stroll. FFS.

Nobody has stopped and wondered a few things:

  1. Do you know who Jurgen Klopp wants? Nope, you haven’t a clue.
  2. Do you know if the players Jurgen Klopp wants are available this January? Nope, you haven’t a clue.
  3. Do you think that Jurgen Klopp should bring in someone he isn’t sure of? If you say yes, you’re an idiot.

I’ve seen it said that the purchase of a player would have instilled ‘momentum’ into the squad. What a crock of sh*t. Andy Carroll sure instilled ‘momentum’ into the squad, eh? That Luis Suarez came in and we surged up the table immediately, right? Err, no. In fact it took over 18 months before the ‘Suarez-effect’ kicked in.

Well guess what? Sadio Mané is on a private jet on his way back to Liverpool right now. Wow! He’s like a new signing! It’s marvellous! But hang on, what if we’d  bought some random speedy winger last week like everyone demanded? What of him then? What? We’ve spunked £30,000,000 on a band-aid? No wonder the NHS is f*cked.

YES – we need more depth in the squad, but don’t forget this is the FIRST full season for Klopp. He spent all of last season working out who he needed to get rid of, and NOBODY gets EVERYONE they want in a transfer window, no matter how much money you throw at it (and if you think that’s horesh*t, you should probably have a word with a certain S. Gerrard). Jurgen has taken a long term view on this project, and will add to the squad WHEN HE CAN GET THE PLAYERS HE WANTS. Squad depth can’t be ensured in one transfer window, and January is barely a transfer window (just look at what our rivals have done for proof).

Another thing people don’t seem to realise is that Jurgen Klopp has NEVER been an instant success. We all want the success he had at Dortmund, but we want it to happen years quicker. What makes you think that’s possible? The key to Klopp’s success is that he coaches players in a system. A tough system that only works with certain types of players. Many players fall by the wayside, and that’s why Jurgen is prudent and wary of adding to the squad until he finds the right person. He could go out and buy another Daniel Sturridge or Andy Carroll or any other type of player that won’t fit the system, but that’s just wasting money, and don’t forget that without CL football to dangle as a carrot, the best won’t even think of coming here…

Jurgen called for the fans to become ‘believers’ when he first arrived, and that still holds true. I’m not saying it’s easy, and my cat certainly didn’t think the message had gotten through to even me yesterday afternoon (that’s a joke by the way, before you call the ISPCA). But he’s right, we do need to become believers. BUT…so do the players, and right now, that’s the biggest challenge for Jurgen Klopp. Every team will go through a slump during a season, and this is ours. Who knows, maybe Chelsea will have one? Spurs are due one too! Neither may happen, but maybe our slump ends on Tuesday night and we finish the season with the same form as we showed until the end of December…if that happens we’ll stroll into the Champions League places, guaranteed.

So hopefully we have a CL place to bargain with in the summer transfer window, and next season we’ll play the ‘reserves’ in the League Cup and FA Cup, but those reserves will be a huge upgrade on this season’s reserves, the same way this season’s reserves are an upgrade on last season’s reserves (and they are, just think about the cup games last year…). It’s a process, sometimes a long, slow, frustrating process, but a process none the less.

So believe in Klopp, and trust him. The season is not over. Tuesday night is huge, but we’ve shown we can beat ANYONE this season. Sadio is back. The front three of Firmino/Coutinho/Mane is available. Matip is back.

Believe.

6/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook (facebook.com/rantsofarebel)

 

Liverpool 0-1 Southampton: The Ranting Rebel League Cup Semi-Final Second Leg Ratings

loris-karius

Loris Karius:

 

Just take a look at that barnet….

Some say it’s a style thing, but they’re wrong.

Goalkeeper safety has been highlighted ever since Stephen Hunt kicked Peter Cech in the head (well, he was playing for Chelsea at the time…), and the stopper began wearing a protective headgear thereafter. There was much sniggering and mocking when Cech first appeared with the new safety accessory, but we’ve all now grown to accept it. In fact, I don’t recognise him without it. He could walk past me on the street and I wouldn’t know him unless he had something on his head, like a cap, or an American Football helmet, or a Donald Trump wig….

As you know, Fandango is a self-conscious lad, not shy from looking in a mirror once or twice a minute day, so while playing in a precarious position such as goalkeeper, he needs protection, but also needs to look good. So how does he do it?

elnett

Aye, the same stuff as Cheryl Tweedy nee Cole nee Fernando Versini nee Whatever You’re Having Yourself uses, but in far greater quantities.

Pre-game, 19 bottles of that stuff are sprayed on Fandango’s head, ensuring that his ‘stylish’ hair is also harder than concrete. He has his own changing room too which has an extensive air-change system installed to suck the gas out and pump oxygen in. Have you ever seen his hair move out of place, even when he’s making saves or bending over to pick the ball out of the net? Nope, neither have I. So now you know.

As for his performance last night, no fault. He made a crucial save in the first half and didn’t put a foot wrong. It’s typical really, just as we get to the stage of the season when both goalkeepers stop f*cking up, the forward line is busticated. FFS.

8/10 

trent-alexander-arnold

Trent Alexander-Arnold:

 

Left regularly exposed on the right flank due to the diamond shape deployed at the start of the game, but he gave as good as he got, and showed real danger when going forward. Some of his crosses were threatening compared to a Patsy Clyne cross (although a fluffy chick is more threatening than the majority of Patsy Clyne crosses).

He demonstrated his ability throughout the game with some sublime first-touches to get him out of trouble, and his experiences this season should see him kick on next season.

Yes, I’ve started thinking about next season. Sue me.

 7/10. 

Dejan Lovren

Dejan Lovren:

 

Dear Dejan,

Any chance when attacking corners you could, you know, move about a bit and vary where you are in the box when you want to head the cross?

I lost count of the number of corners that were slapped to the penalty spot, with Lovren poised, but for a Southampton defender to read it (and why wouldn’t he, it wasn’t complicated) and head clear.

Poor James Milner was getting dogs abuse for his set-piece delivery, some of which was deserved, but if your target keeps standing in the same spot, all you can do is try and hit him…

6/10

joel-matip

Joel Matip: 

A welcome return to the side for Joel, who had never featured in a losing side for Liverpool before last night. Had you heard that stat? I know, they kept that secret, eh?

Anyway, as ever Joel is guided by the writings of his father Billy, and these lines rang true last night as he lay awake trying to comprehend how the team he plays for are so utterly sh*te compared to when he last played for them.

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
From conceding a goal so late
To driving home in my jeep

I must be looking for something
Something sacred I lost
James Milner gets wide
But finds it too hard to cross

And even though I know James Milner is wide
I go up for every corner and I stand in the box
And watch him cross to the opposite side
So I can finally find out who he’s looking for

So the unbeaten record is gone, he didn’t cure all ills magically (as I suspect Mané won’t when he returns), and lo and behold the current problems can’t be solved with the return (or purchase) of one player.

Great!

7/10

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

There’s a lot made of the fact that James Milner is supposed to be ‘boring’. Hell, I’ve even alluded to it myself, in jest of course. However one thing I’m afraid James Milner was last night was…predictable.

At this stage of the season, if Millie is attacking, the opposing defender knows that he’s going to pull the ball back on his right foot…and if he goes on his left, the odds are that the cross is going to be gash. Predictable.

When Millie takes corners, he’s going to aim for Dejan Lovren, usually standing on the penalty spot. Predictable.

There’s nothing wrong with predictability in many areas of life. You want your wage payments to be predictable. You want your penalty taker to be predictable (and successful). You want the bus/trains that you get each day to be predictable.

I prefer my full-backs to have an air of unpredictability about them, particularly when chasing a semi-final deficit. I even thought about Bertie Moreno at one stage.

The acid bath after the game was bloody painful.

6/10

jordan-henderson

Jordan Henderson: 

 

Now here’s the thing…

The thing is that the skipper is playing with an injury. Klopp’s been vocal about it, it’s no secret. Everyone knows it…EVERYONE….

Numerous times last night Hendo dropped back into that space between the centre backs that is now so en vogue, looking to pick up the ball from Matip/Lovren and launch an attack. All well and good, except for one thing…Lovren passed to Matip (around Hendo) and vice versa. Honestly, it happened regularly. Why???

Is Lovren/Matip better at passing forward than Hendo? Nah.

Are they subconsciously worried about Hendo due to his injury? Maybe…

When you have both Emre Can and Jordan Henderson in the squad, and one is injured, then the other steps in, or should do. Yet last night, and for the past few games, we’ve seen Can and Hendo play alongside each other, and I can’t work out why…

Does Jurgen not trust Emre in the holding role? If so, he’s not fit for purpose as he’s not really good enough to play the Gini/Lallana role…

I’m puzzled. I suspect I’m not alone.

7/10

Emre Can

Emre Can:

 

I thought he played alright actually.

He came closest to scoring (although it would have been an assist to a Fraser Forster howler), and he kept his dilly-dallying to the bare minimum. He also tracked back to great effect, particularly in the first half.

However I refer you to my points above in the Henderson review piece.

Also, ignore the contract tittle-tattle in the press. Nobody knows what’s really going on.

7/10.

 

 Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

I thought his night was summed up late in the game when he had an opportunity to burst forward but ended up trodding on the ball, stretching his leg back to get it and tripping his opponent.

He was playing in his preferred position, but didn’t have the impact he has had throughout the season…like so many others.

I get the feeling that the key to Liverpool’s success is not ‘a single thing’ but actually a rather complicated puzzle where numerous factors all need to be just right. My theory is:

Firmino central, Lallana deep, Coutinho roaming, Mané in Liverpool, Henderson fully fit, Wijnaldum on the pitch and Matip playing.

Last night 4 of those pieces were missing.

6/10.

firmino

Roberto Firmino:

 

From the fulcrum of everything good (in a bad team display) against Swansea to a peripheral figure last night.

He tried, but he was out of position, and Bobby plays horribly when he’s out of position. That’s alarming in itself, the fact that his impact is so clearly limited when not in his favoured role…

One thing that has emerged clearly is that Bobby and Daniel can’t play together. Let’s just add that to the long list of problems gathered in January, shall we?

6/10.

coutinho

Philippe Coutinho:

Dearest Philippe,

 

CONGRATULATIONS!

A new 5 year deal, and I’m glad you listened to my advice about staying. Honestly, that Barcelona place looks nice in the brochures, but it’s a kip in reality. A real dive.

Anyway, your next mission is to give Jurgen a kick in the baws, please. Hooking you with 3 minutes to go and we’re chasing a goal? What the f*ck is THAT about? Would the 3 minutes have gone against your ‘comeback schedule’? Me arse.

Needless to say, we need you back to your best asap mate.

Love you xxx

7/10

sturridge

Daniel Sturridge:

There are certain players that you watch for a long time, and you slowly, gradually come to a conclusion that they just don’t fit / just don’t have it anymore. It can take a full season or even longer, and you regularly fight the evidence of your own eyes and try and justify all the reasons why that player is still the dogs boll*x and needed in the team.

Alternatively you can have moments of clarity – a stunning bolt from the blue as you watch a player and you know, YOU INSTANTLY KNOW, that it’s over for them at your club.

Alas, that happened last night with Daniel Sturridge.

No, it has nothing to do with the misses (of which there were a few), as they can happen to any striker at any time.

This was a moment in the second half when a ball was played over the top, into acres of space for Daniel Sturridge to chase. Yes, there was pace on the ball, but having watched him for years, you know he could catch it with ease, and would then be in a great attacking position. Daniel set off after the ball…and just didn’t have it in his legs to get there, succeeding only in back-heeling the ball to the opposition, in a desperate attempt to keep the ball in play.

Is his extra yard gone from his legs due to the toll of constant injury?

Is his extra yard gone from his head because he’s afraid of further injury?

I don’t know if we’ll ever know the answer, but I know that to go where we want LFC to go, we can’t carry that in the squad, particularly from someone so close to the first team.

I’m gutted, but I know what I saw and I know what it means. Daniel is going to the airport this summer, but he has no idea where his final destination will be .

6/10

Substitutes:

wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

I have no idea what his introduction for Philippe with minutes left was supposed to achieve.

N/A

origi

Divock Origi:

 

Desperately unlucky not to win a tie saving / month saving / season saving (delete as applicable as the season goes on) penalty, and having been sprung from the bench, that’s as much as we could have asked of him.

7/10

 


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

The beard has been trimmed.

The excuses and complaints are flowing more freely than ever before.

The laughing has stopped.

As a cup campaign that promised so much fades into the memory banks, the torrid month of January continues with two more games left…another cup tie and Chelsea at Anfield.

The race for the Top 4 has 6 runners and riders, 4 of whom are above the 2 points a game target that normally guarantees a Top 4 place, and the other two are just outside that incredibly high standard.

Make no mistake, Jurgen Klopp is a manager under pressure.

However this is NOT a crisis. It’s a tough time, but that’s all it is. As quickly as the magic died it can be started again, often without rhyme or reason.

Yes, the squad needs more depth, and yes the transfer window is open, but no, that does not mean Klopp should buy someone, anyone, just because he can. He has signed a long-term contract because he sees this as a long-term project, so he’ll only buy players as and when he feels they are suitable and when they are available. That’s not this January, no matter how much you want it to be.

This is still his first full season in the job, I’m amazed at how many forget that, or disregard it and demand instant success. Instant success in a league crammed with oligarchs and oil billionaires and José’s and Pep’s and Arsene’s and Antonio’s and Mauricio’s. I’ve seen it said that THIS season was OUR chance, and we blew it. Yes, THIS season with a team on 55 points after 22 games, which wins the title EVERY season (even when Newcastle blew it 21 seasons ago they had 54 points after 23 games ffs).

Klopp preached early in his tenure that he wanted to turn doubters into believers. It was a nice soundbite at the time, gladly seized upon by the press, but it’s only NOW, when things are not going exceedingly well, that you understand what he meant. Liverpool don’t have believers anymore, and maybe that’s understandable after 27+ years without a title. We’ve all been burned by raised hopes and dashed dreams, so isn’t it natural that we all doubt that it will ever happen? Perhaps, but what good is that to Jurgen and the team? What use is the crowd when it’s deathly quiet or moaning and whining when the going gets tough? The team don’t need the crowd at full volume when they’re smashing Watford for 6, they need them at full volume when they’re struggling to break down a resolute defence, or trying to come from behind in a game.

If you don’t agree with any of this, that’s your prerogative, but throwing all your toys out of the pram, demanding instant signings and calling for the head of Klopp makes you a spoilt little child who has no business being a Liverpool fan.

And that’s my prerogative.

6/10.

Note: If you enjoy the guff on this blog, you can find me on Twitter (@NiallHawthorne) or on Facebook (facebook.com/rantsofarebel)

Liverpool 2-3 Swansea City: The Ranting Rebel Ratings

Simon Mignolet Yellow

Simon Mignolet:

 

Simon has been concentrating on his meditation since he lost his place in the first team in order to remain calm, composed and ready to spring into action whenever required.

Since he regained his place, he credited his tantric sessions to his upturn in fortune and doubled-down on this new pastime. Unfortunately he took it too far today.

Deciding to go for a lie-down as the ball is just 3 yards from your own goal is just a wee bit too relaxed for my liking, and was much to the satisfaction of Llorente who stabbed the ball into an empty net with Migs on the verge of ‘Zen’.

Very little chance with either of the other two goals, but yet another day when he didn’t actually save anything. Not alone by any means in having a bad day.

6/10 

Nathaniel Clyne

Nathaniel Clyne:

 

When Klopp updated the press as to the fitness or otherwise of Patsy Clyne, he informed the assembled press pack that Patsy had gotten two running sessions under his belt and should be fine for this game.

While all that is splendid, would it be a good idea for Patsy to be introduced to a football while running? He looked like he didn’t know what a football was this afternoon. His crossing was woeful, his first touch would make a JCB blush and he was caught for two of the three goals conceded today.

Quite probably his worst performance of the season. Trent Alexander-Arnold, not even on the bench, is reported to have started his warm-up on the full-time whistle.

 5/10. 

Dejan Lovren

Dejan Lovren:

 

Do you remember the TV show ‘Quantum Leap’?

If not, it was all about some scientist dude that could travel back and forward in time, ‘leaping’ into the bodies of some randomers, living their lives while everybody he interacted with didn’t know that ‘he’ was ‘not him/her’. It was a cracking show when you only had 2 channels and Netflix wasn’t even invented….

Anyway, today Dejan Lovren had a real-life ‘Quantum Leap’ episode. That wasn’t really him on the pitch today. Nope, in a stunning development it was Bjorn Tore Kvarma who was spirited into the body of Lovren, which led him to play like, well, Bjorn Tore Kvarma. And it wasn’t the Bjorn Tore Kvarma who played in red in the 90’s, it was the 44 year old Bjorn Tore Kvarma of today…

How else can you explain how Lovren was there but really wasn’t? He missed tackles, he missed headers, he missed bloody everything. Shocking. Again. You have to think that Jurgen will eventually lose patience with the fact that his centre-half keeps throwing in shockers every few months…

5/10

Klavan

Ragnar Klavan: 

 

So you finally find out, on the eve of the game, that the fella itching to take your place in the team has just been given the all-clear to do so. The next game is going to be your last chance to put down a marker and to try and keep your place.

Ragnar chose this afternoon to do the bloody opposite. Less Klavan The Barbarian, more Klavan The Metrosexual.

Utterly dominated by Llorente, but in fairness to him he played the best pass of any player in red today…right into the path of Gorgeous Gylfi Sigurdsson.

Matip is back and Ragnar is now about to go into hibernation for the rest of the winter. Personally I’d chuck him in a cryogenic chamber and throw away the key.

4/10

james-milner

James Milner: 

 

When all around you are losing their head, you can count on James Milner to keep his.

A cracking tussle with Wayne Routledge for the full match, he also decided that enough was enough at two down, rolled up his sleeves (yes, even when they’re short sleeves he rolls them up to his shoulders) and dragged Liverpool back into the match.

A cracking cross led to the first for Bobby Firmino and James was thundering up and down the left wing chasing the winner.

It’s ironic that in a back-four where he’s not in his ‘natural position’, he’s the only one who emerged with his reputation intact.

7/10

jordan-henderson

Jordan Henderson: 

 

Wayward with his passing, particularly in the first half, as he tried to force things against the mass-ranks of the Swansea defence, but he worked as hard as anybody to try and turn around what was a living nightmare for all in red.

However…

When you’re captain of a side, you have to see what others don’t see, and keep calm when all around you are losing their head….

When Liverpool equalised with over 20′ left to play, there was no need for a gung-ho, desperate assault on the Swansea City goal. They were on the ropes, and right where we wanted them. Naturally many in red wanted to pile forward, get the winner as soon as possible, but that’s where leaders are required on the pitch…

Hendo needed to get everybody to calm down. Get word to them all to settle, take it easy and to work a winner in due course, not at the next available opportunity. However he seemed to be as caught up in the drama as everyone else.

Harsh? Perhaps, but Oh Captain My Captain, that’s why you should be different.

6/10

Emre Can

Emre Can:

 

Prior to kick-off, I tweeted (you can check if you don’t believe me) that Jurgen Klopp had gotten his team selection wrong.

I hate when I’m right.

We had no need for all three of Emre Can, Jordan Henderson and The Geordie Wine Gum to play at home to a Swansea City side who were certain to put 11 men behind the ball, particularly to start the game (which amazingly, they did!).

When you’re faced with a mass defence, who are intent on shackling your front players and playing the defensive line in touching distance of the midfield line and denying any space for the likes of Coutinho/Firmino to turn and run at them, you need to deploy Lallana deeper. He can then make the kind of late, surging runs into the box that nullifies a deep-lying defence, and keeps all the Swansea midfielders on their toes.

Alas, Emre was selected for a game that did not suit him. Games like last week away at Old Trafford are where Emre now thrives. Maybe in time he’ll develop to take games like today by the scruff of the neck, but his current abilities tend to slow up the ball and prevent the quick passing and movement required to unlock the defence.

Many have said that he was picked as Klopp knows that even against a Swansea City, we can be caught too easily on the break. That’s a valid point but…well, how did that work out again?

A poor day for Emre, but he was played a hospital ball by his gaffer…

6/10.

Wijnaldum

Geordie Wine Gum:

 

For over an hour, it was another one of those games where I was asking myself ‘But what exactly does Gini do?’…and then he answered me.

What The Geordie Wine Gum did to set up the equalising goal is something that I can’t see Emre Can doing at present, so that’s why he starts ahead of Emre in games like this in the future.

I’m not saying he was magnificent, and for large chunks of the game he was all at sea as much as the next man, but he showed quality when it mattered.

A little more wouldn’t hurt mind…

7/10

 Adam Lallana

Adam Lallana: 

 

Considering he was played away from his best position, I thought Adam was magnificent this afternoon. The vast majority of threat came through him and he was desperately unlucky not to get on the scoresheet or provide an assist.

I don’t want to harp on about it, but if he had been deployed from deep for the full game, things may have been different. Of course our defence would still have been as effective as a waterproof teabag, but we may have scored a few more…

8/10.

firmino

Roberto Firmino:

 

Welcome back Bobby F!

That’s two of the best goals of the season, right there, right when we needed them.

A superb sneaky shove in the back of the defender before a THUNDEROUS header into the net, but this was usurped by a frankly filthy piece of skill to chest down a looping cross and half-volley the ball into the corner from 12 yards.

I want to leave my wife and kids and run away with that piece of skill. His double-act with Philippe will only grow in strength as Coutinho gets back to full match fitness.

I can’t bloody wait. We need him now more than ever.

9/10.

coutinho

Philippe Coutinho:

 

Dearest Philippe,

It’s good to have you back and starting a game for the first time since November.

As you have seen, very little has changed since your last start. Teams still come to Anfield to park the bus, but during your absence a little bit of magic, a little spark, a little je ne sais quoi has been lost from the team. Nobody can put their finger on what it is (some say it’s called ‘SADIO’, whatever that is), but I need you to do whatever you can to bring it back. Please.

Yes, it’s unfair to ask someone just walking again to ride to the rescue, but that’s your lot mate. Get Bobby dazzing again. Get Adam back in the goals. Get Mané back from Africa (kidnap him if you have to).

You know what to do.

Love you xxx

7/10

Substitutes:

sturridge

Daniel Sturridge:

 

When you come out in an interview and proclaim that you’re the best striker at the club, it would be nice if you come off the bench v Swansea City and prove it.

I’m not saying Daniel was poor, but he didn’t have the impact I was hoping for.

6/10

origi

Divock Origi:

20′ to make an impact…and it didn’t happen. Oh for the Origi of a few weeks ago who was rescuing a win against Sunderland.

Mind you, for the majority of his time on the pitch he was asked to be Andy bloody Carroll with long balls fired at his head. That’s not his game, like….

6/10

joel-matip

Joel Matip:

If you think I’m going to research some Billy Joel lyrics for an injury time cameo appearance, you’ve got another thing coming.

Thrown on up front? That’s embarrassing.

N/A


klopp-new

Manager: Jurgen Klopp: 

 

It’s great! 10 league games left at home! Fortress Anfield! Watch the run we go on now!

Well, that lasted all of 90 minutes.

You picked the wrong bloody team Jurgen. W.R.O.N.G. But we all make mistakes.

You’re in the trenches now Jurgen. Whether it’s an issue with energy levels, fitness, motivation, belief…whatever…it’s down to you to fix it.

Where before kick-off we are eyeing a league title, we’re now cheering on Burnley/Hull to help us in a quest for a Champions League place.

You’re right Jurgen, every game from now on is a final. You’ve got a great record in finals, right? RIGHT?

Awww crap….

6/10.

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